When Laura O’Neil packed her bags in Melbourne to head over and try her luck in the Big Apple, she could not have imagined her boyfriend Ben’s crazy idea of selling home made ice cream from the back of a truck in New York would go on to be a career-defining move.
Convincing his then girlfriend to join he and his brother Pete in making their own artisan ice cream with pure, quality ingredients wasn’t too difficult, with Laura feeling a little burnt out was in need of a change from her event planning career in Australia.
So in the Spring of 2008, stocked up on ice cream and with two old, but newly refurbished Van Leeuwen ice cream vans in their possession, the trio hit the streets of New York to share their sweet frozen confections with those passing by.
Setting them apart from the others jostling for space in the crowded city is the fact that Van Leeuwen ice cream is made from scratch in Greenpoint Brooklyn, using only fresh hormone and antibiotic free milk and cream, cane sugar, egg yolks and the best fruits, chocolates, spices and nuts from small producers locally and around the world. “We celebrate ingredients perfected by nature, not science.” is their USP and the foundation of their success.
Now with six trucks and three stores around Brooklyn and Manhattan serving their home made ice creams and the recent addition of fresh pastries and Australian coffee by Toby’s Estate for the cooler months, Laura tells us she is single handedly on a mission to make ‘Melbourne Style’ coffee to share with the world – well at least New York.
And like any many Australians, Laura still favours Bali as one of her ultimate beach holiday destinations. In fact she’s so in love with Bali and the flavours of the cuisine, she saw a gap in the market for an Indonesian restaurant in her new home town and together with Ben and Pete (did we mention neither of them have any experience in commercial cooking?) opened Selamat Pagi in October 2012. Meaning Good Morning in Indonesian, the restaurant in Greenpoint Brooklyn is making its mark on the local dining scene.
If you’re like us and keen to try the taste sensation of Van Leeuwen ice cream but live a million miles away, Laura has shared the American recipe for roasted banana ice cream with us below. (We just wish the US would hurry up and catch onto to the metric system!! )
ROASTED BANANA ICE CREAM
BY Laura O’Neil from Van Leeuwen Ice Cream
For the Caramelized Banana Puree:
3 bananas, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick pieces
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
Pinch kosher salt
For the Ice Cream Base:
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
4 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Make the Caramelized Banana Puree:
1. Preheat oven to 350[F] degrees; position the rack in the middle. In a large bowl, combine the bananas, butter, sugar, and salt, and toss together. Transfer the banana mixture onto a parchment-lined half-sheet baking pan (13×18-inches) and place in the oven. Cook the bananas for 13 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Transfer the bananas to a blender and puree until smooth. Transfer the banana puree to a bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or, preferably, overnight. You should get about 2 cups of puree.
Make the Roasted Banana Ice Cream:
2. Pour the milk and cream into a large saucepan with 1/2 the sugar and warm over medium heat until warm.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar and salt until slightly thickened and the whisk leaves a trail behind. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle about 1/2 cup of the dairy mixture to the yolks, then add the remainder of the dairy. Strain into a fine-mesh strainer set over a clean saucepan.
4. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl and set a smaller bowl over the ice bath; have a strainer ready nearby.
5. Set the saucepan with the custard over medium-low heat, and cook, stirring constantly, and scraping the bottom and sides often with a wooden spoon, until steam begins to rise from the surface and the custard thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. Run your finger through the custard on the spoon; if the gap stays separated, the custard is ready to be cooled.
6. Strain the custard into the bowl sitting on top of the ice bath and stir with whisk for 3 to 5 minutes or until the custard is cool to the touch.
7. Cover the bowl, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or, preferably, overnight.
8. Stir 1 cup of the Caramelized Banana Puree into the chilled custard (use the remaining banana puree as ice cream topping, if you like). Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Churn the ice cream until the texture resembles “soft serve”. Transfer the ice cream to a storage container and freeze to harden. Alternatively, you can serve it immediately as it will be the consistency of gelato.
Store, frozen, for up to 7 days.